BDA Seminar – ‘UK Net Zero Strategy – Drill Back Greener’ September 2022 – Reviewed

September 22, 2022

The latest running of the British Drilling Association (BDA) seminar – “UK Net Zero Strategy – Drill Back Greener”, which was held 21 September 2022, at IOM3, London, was extremely well received, with attendee feedback commenting on the quality of speakers and topics being covered.

Tim Chapman, Director, Net Zero Carbon for Infrastructure, Arup, began the day’s presentations with a keynote address about how the construction needs to help its clients deliver projects that are judged by posterity to have been more successful. Tim offered that too many of our projects remain rooted in the thinking of the past and will therefore fail to deliver the benefits that society will demand in the future. It was a great scene setter, projecting the tone for the seminar.

David Birks, Technical Director Hydrogeology & Energy at WSP, took over the baton from Tim, with an engaging talk about “Open Loop GSHP Systems Coupled to Heat Networks and Large Buildings”. David presented his learning and experience from five city-scale open loop GSHP heat network development projects in Colchester, Plymouth, Liverpool, Sunderland and Telford.

He considered resilience and longevity in the context of large-scale abstraction and reinjection over decadal timescales (10.1144/geosci2020-070) and highlighted the important issues to consider in the planning and management of large-scale open loop GSHP including subsidence, ground heave, flooding, pollution, and subsurface gas displacement. His presentation was extremely informative.

Gareth Farr, Head of Heat and by Product Innovation at the Coal Authority, then spoke on the fascinating topic – “From Black to Green: Recovering Heat from Britain’s Disused Coal Mines”. Specifically, Gareth discussed how with Great Britain having a long legacy of coal mining, since the closure of the vast majority coal mines, many of the underground workings have flooded with water. This water can be a suitable target for open loop ground source heat networks.

Gareth also provided an overview of progress on the mine water heat agenda in Great Britain, with reference to several schemes that are nearing completion. He also touched upon the wider Coal Authority vision for this strategic energy resource and updated delegates on research including drilling of a monitoring network in the Northeast of England.

The next presentation was delivered by Matt Trewhella, CEO The Kensa Group. Matt’s talk, titled “The evolution of ground source heat pumps and opportunities for drillers”, looked at Kensa’s recent evolution from ground arrays to shared ground arrays, and its vision for further evolution into networked heat pumps.

Matt also delivered a review of government targets for heat pumps and market development for ground source heat pump manufacturers, installers and the drilling industry.

BAM Ritchies’ Angus McGregor followed, with an engaging and thought-provoking topic titled “Reduce, Reuse, Relax”. Angus took attendees on a journey through some of the simple steps we as individuals, and individuals involved in the drilling industry, can take to Reduce, Reuse and Relax.

He continued with strategies for connecting, being active, engaging, taking notice, learning, and giving, as well as exploring social value and asking us to make a commitment to Leaving and Legacy and being Leaner in what we do. Connecting with communities (near our homes, and on our projects) as we deliver was also touched up on, with Angus concluding that ‘We are after all aiming to save where we live for future generations – creating a sustainable future’.

Chris White, Technical Sales Engineer at Marton Geotechnical Services, then delivered a “View from the British Drilling Supply Chain”. His presentation began with a discussion about how the country needs holes, and that the British drilling industry is a key component for the UK reaching its Net Zero Target. He continued, adding that it is the relatively small industry composed of owner operators, small to medium sized enterprises and bigger corporate groups that has the knowledge, equipment, and specialist labour to get the geothermal loops, water wells and investigations conducted in order to engineer the ground correctly, balancing our use of carbon and providing widespread energy efficient infrastructure.

Presenting a view from the UK’s leading supplier for most of the materials, supplies, tooling and drilling rigs, Chris explained how all these components can help make net zero happen, but also asking the question about how big the carbon cost is with examples of existing best practice from our customers.

At the beginning of the day’s proceedings, a show of hands was requested and repeated following presentations, to see if any attendees had shifted in their attitude, from being pessimistic to being optimistic, about meeting target zero and quite a number had moved to optimism. It also found that overwhelmingly, all attendees were of the view that the drilling industry could play a large part in the decarbonisation of domestic and commercial buildings, which is encouraging new for future engagement in any sustainability initiatives.

A lively questions and answers session concluded the seminar before delegates enjoyed a relaxing networking session with drinks and canapés.

The BDA would like to take this opportunity to thank all those companies that sponsored the event – ADP Group (headline sponsor and exhibitor), JKS Boyles (associate sponsor), BAM Ritchies, In Situ Site Investigation, Soil Engineering, Boode UK, Dunelm Geotechnical & Environmental, Marton Geotechnical Services, Eijkelkamp Fraste, Ischbeck-Titan, Stratum Drilling, and Marshall Drilling – your support is greatly appreciated.

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